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Australian cycling legend Robbie McEwen has lashed out at SBS after being axed from his commentary role.
The 49-year-old took to social media this week to announce the news, claiming he hadn't received a 'valid explanation'.
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“You’ll no longer hear me on comms on any SBS cycling broadcast," he tweeted.
"They have axed me from the team to ‘deliver their broadcast differently’.
“I didn’t get a valid explanation and I’m assuming someone is pushing their own agenda in axing me.
"I loved doing it and I’m really disappointed. Direct your opinions to @CyclingCentral @SBSSport & attn to the executive producer if you’d like to let them know how you feel about it.”
Great #roadnats22 National Champs road races. Congrats to the riders who gave us the spectacle. You’ll no longer hear me on comms on any @sbs cycling broadcast. They have axed me from the team to “deliver their broadcast differently”. 🤷🏽♂️
— Robbie McEwen AM (@mcewenrobbie) January 16, 2022
SBS has since released a statement, saying: “Robbie has been a valued member of our cycling commentary line-up for a number of events over the last six years, but we’re exploring a different approach in 2022.
“While his contract has come to an end, we thank Robbie for all that he’s brought to the role during his time with us.”
McEwen won 12 stages of the Tour de France and claimed the green sprint jersey three times.
At the peak of his career he was widely regarded as the world's fastest sprinter.
After retiring from professional cycling in 2013 he moved into commentary and had worked with SBS on their Tour de France broadcasts.
“I don’t believe budget has anything to do with it because I would have taken a cut in the daily rate if that’s what was needed,” McEwen told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“But that was never in the discussion. And budget cuts wouldn’t see more people added to the broadcast team, which seems to be happening.
“I don’t expect SBS to tell the real story behind the change, and they’ll just weather the storm on social media and wait for it to blow over."
Outrage over SBS axing of Robbie McEwen
McEwen said executives at SBS were "out of touch" and hoped they "felt the wrath of viewers".
Aussie cyclist Richie Porte was among the many to slam SBS for axing McEwen.
“Yes he’s a mate but @robbiemcewen is one of the best in the commentary game and one of the all time cycling greats. #themindboggles,” Porte wrote on Twitter, labelling the decision "ridiculous".
SBS also caused outrage last year with the axing of fellow cycling commentator Mike Tomalaris.
Tomalaris spent more than 30 years at SBS, starting out as Les Murray's sidekick on the station's National Soccer League coverage.
Tomalaris told the Sydney Morning Herald he was an “emotional wreck” after his exit.
“It made me think of the people that I’ve lost through suicide,” he said.
“And even though I never considered doing any damage to myself, it did cross my mind for the very first time.
“It took me about 14 days to get over the shock and the shock turned to anger and my mental health was very unstable for the first time in my life.”
Robbie McEwen is objectively one of the best cycling commentators in the world. I’m staggered that SBS would give him the arse.
— Steve Burgess (@steveburgess23) January 17, 2022
Absolutely nuts - two of the most knowledgeable and best regarded cycling commentators in the world - Robbie McEwen and Michael Tomalaris - gone thanks to illogical SBS decision making.
— Gavin Wendt (@glwendt) January 19, 2022
@CyclingCentral @SBSSport can’t believe SBS have axed Robbie McEwen from the cycling broadcast team. Absolutely love him and this will make me switch off sbs coverage of cycling especially the tour. Wow massive mistake made his knowledge is irreplaceable
— Deandra Trickey (@deetrickey) January 19, 2022
Robbie McEwen was easily the best commentator on SBS's Tour de France coverage. Crazy decision.
— Mark Ludlow (@M_Ludlow) January 19, 2022
First @miketomalaris and now @mcewenrobbie dropped. Who exactly will you have as your @CyclingCentral commentary line-up @SBS ??
If you’re planning to give up your rights, I am quite impressed with the @StanSportAU coverage (rugby and tennis). Although not free-to-air 👎👎
— 💧McFly (@mkrsek) January 17, 2022
Dear @CyclingCentral, @SBSSport
We are hearing the news re the axing of Robbie McEwen from the cycling coverage moving forward, to say that we are shocked & disappointed would be an understatement.
Robbie, Matt & Bridie have been an amazing team who’s incredible knowledge & 1/2
— Court (@Hoobiemanchu) January 16, 2022
— Jaymz 🤘 (@AceF1910) January 18, 2022
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